What’s On This January

by Scotland Starts Here, 9th January 2020
Dawyck Botanic Garden | Stobo
What’s On This January

Some might expect the first month of the year to be quiet. Not in Midlothian and the Borders. Both areas are rich with unmissable celebrations and events all year. Read on for a selection of January events that will make you want to plan a trip immediately – 2020 starts here!


Still from the film Chasing the Sublime about cold water swimming in Scotland
Still from the film Chasing the Sublime about cold water swimming in Scotland

Adventure films from around the world, world-class athletes and local heroes with incredible stories to tell, a weekend-long celebration of the outdoors; that’s the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival. 

The 2020 festival returns to the Eastgate Theatre & Arts Centre with an ever-growing programme of screenings and events, which are sure to get your heart racing. Adventure filmmakers rub shoulders with arctic explorers, endurance cyclists and many more in this year’s selection of films. Outside of the film theatre, a range of outdoor sessions, as well as the inaugural POFF photography competition, encourage attendants to find their own adventure in the great wide somewhere. 


Burns Night – on and around the 25th of January

The tradition of celebrating the Bard’s life and works on the 25th of January – his birthday – may have originated in Burns’ home county of Ayrshire. Some of the best and biggest celebrations, however, are spread across Scotland, with some genuinely unique Burns Night festivities in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. So, don your best tartan outfit and join the celebrations:

Toast the Bard at Abbotsford, the home of poet and novelist Sir Walter Scott. One of Burns’ greatest admirers, Scott was known to amuse his guests in the 19th century by re-enacting and reciting the Address to the Haggis. Today, his estate carries on the tradition in its modern on-site restaurant, Ochiltree’s, which overlooks the turreted house and whimsical gardens. The food, just like the music on the night, is all locally sourced, too. 

Enjoy a feast of Scottish culture with a twist: At the ‘Not-So-Traditional Burns Supper’, the well-known troupe of the Ideoms Theatre Company takes over various sites in the Borders such as the County Hotel Selkirk or the Gordon Arms in the Yarrow Valley with their own entertaining take on celebrating the Bard. 

Those in favour of a more relaxed affair can head to a variety of local restaurants for menus inspired by the classic festivities: Book a table at the cosy Craigie Hotel in Penicuik for their Burns Dinner Night with a set 3-course menu and a bottle of wine to share. 

Cringletie House just outside of Peebles, offer a fabulous dinner with just a hint of Burns on the evening of the 25th. Taking inspiration from the classic festivities for their table d’hôte menu, you will find beautifully presented dishes showcasing the very best Scotland has to offer. 

Those looking to pair their food with the water of life will find the perfect opportunity at Oblo Bar & Bistro in Eyemouth for their Burns Whisky Tasting. Each course has been masterfully paired with a different whisky, with a guest whisky ambassador on hand to guide you through your journey of Scottish food and drink.

Alternatively, pair haggis, neeps and tatties with craft beer created especially for the occasion at Stewart Brewing. The team at the award-winning brewery in Midlothian is well versed in putting on outstanding food and drink events. And with live folk music, their Burns Night will be no exception. 


Kelso Races – the 27th of January

Feel the ground vibrate as thundering hooves races past you and get up close to the magnificent horses Kelso Racecourse – Britain’s friendliest racecourse. Take in the full experience of ‘going to the races’ and dress up for the day, pick a favourite horse to cheer on or soak up the bustling atmosphere from the enclosure all the way to the bookies. 

With the racing season in full swing and several jumps races staged between September and May, it’s the perfect opportunity to spend a day in and around picturesque Kelso. 


Ease your way back into everyday life with a fun family day out. A weekend away from the bustle is sure to make the start of 2020 a breeze. To get you going, we have rounded up some family-friendly activities in Midlothian and the Borders for any weather and season. From reaching new heights to making cuddly friends on a hill walk, there is sure to be something for everyone! 


Grab your scarf and gloves and head out on a crisp winter walk! Scotland might still be in the tight grip of the season, but from late January onwards, dainty white flowers announce the slow arrival of spring. And even without snow, you can discover white landscapes with swathes of snowdrops claiming parks and gardens across Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. 

To celebrate the arrival of the popular perennial, the Scottish Snowdrop Festival gathers displays and tours at some of the country’s best estates, gardens and woodlands. From specialist displays to vast floral carpets, each location presents a unique, enchanting spectacle. Some of this year’s dazzling highlights include Dawyck Botanic Gardens, Dalkeith Country Park, Floors Castle and Cringletie House

Many participants of the Scottish Snowdrop Festival are also members of Discover Scottish Gardens. The organisation showcases some of the country’s most outstanding gardens and nurseries and promotes Scotland’s rich horticultural diversity.